Continuing the theme of my previous article (Why do you need a proofreader?), now I’m thinking about who needs one.

Everyone does!

Really, probably not everyone does, but a lot of organisations and individuals could benefit from using a proofreader or copy editor, or even a copy writer.

In the digital age everyone can write and have their writing seen by anyone with an internet connection, and we’re all doing it. We’re writing our own website content. We’re writing articles on LinkedIn and blogs. We’re tweeting, posting on Facebook, and joining discussions. We’re doing it to share our experiences and our experience, to be noticed, to find new clients, to have our opinions heard, and just for fun.

Ideally, all of these texts would be well-written, with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation, but that’s never going to happen. And sometimes, it really doesn’t matter that much: it depends why we’re writing, and who we’re hoping will read it.

If the writing is in a professional capacity, it’s important that it’s done right. It enhances the credibility of the author and it creates a good first impression.

I read a lot of articles, on LinkedIn for example, and many are great, both in content and writing, but there are many others that might have something interesting to say, but are let down by errors in spelling and grammar etc. This affects not only the authors’ credibility, but a lack of clarity can mean their messages are not received as intended, and the writers are less likely to be followed by others.

Anyone who is distributing printed matter or who has a presence online, who is using their presence for their business or for building a following for future employment or business opportunities, should consider getting some professional help with their writing: it might only require a quick check and be quite inexpensive.

 What’s the difference between a proofreader and a copy editor?

There are several levels of editing. What exactly is meant by these terms really depends on the environment, and the boundaries are becoming blurred.

When I proofread, I’m looking for typos, obvious formatting problems, and of course spelling, punctuation and grammar.

When I’m copy editing, I go a bit further. Here I also look at style, for example the overuse of particular words, which can be a little distracting for the reader. I look for clichés; misused words; overcomplicated sentence structures; or leaps in logic, where the reader could be left wondering how they got to this point. I might need to check references and the bibliography, depending on the type of document. I look for problems with consistency (eg switching from British to US spelling, or contradictions).

Photo by sidewalk flying/flickr.com